Two clichés come to mind when considering the topic of organic marketing:
- The best things in life are free, and
- All good things are worth waiting for.
Whereas other forms of marketing for your tax and accounting practice may seem like shortcuts to success, in reality, some of the best tactics are relatively low-cost but require one key ingredient: patience. Pay Per Click (PPC) specialists can easily spout statistics on the rapid increase in clicks and conversions your practice could see from implementing a strong PPC strategy; however, what they do not point out is the level of budget needed to see real results and the short-term nature of this "success." When the money is gone, it's gone - and your ads are no longer visible. For any business aiming to build a successful online presence in the long-term, organic marketing is a much wiser investment and can help your digital footprint to actually expand over time. Let's talk in a bit more detail about what organic marketing is, how Google ranks your brand, and where PPC can fit into an effective long-term strategy. What is organic marketing? Organic marketing involves your practice becoming intentional about your online presence, interactions with customers, and long-term online brand strategy. Actions in this space would include educating customers, optimizing your blog content and site pages for SEO, building online authority in your niche or industry, focusing on inbound/outbound links, and more. Organic marketing is "best used to develop brand voice, enable authentic interactions with customers, educate and convert blog readers, and drive traffic to landing pages, your website, and other online assets." The caveat to this specific type of marketing is that the benefits reaped by your business are generally cultivated over longer periods of time, as you build a brand your customers will want to continue returning to. Even though this does not involve as much "pushing" as other types of marketing (like PPC), when done properly you can still generate consistent, loyal traffic. According to Search Engine Journal, organic search is responsible for about 64 percent of all site traffic, while paid search generates only 6 percent - this is a great testament to the power of organic marketing. How does Google rank your brand? So, you want to pursue organic marketing that will bring long-term SEO benefits and help build an effective online brand presence. How do you get started? It helps to consider how search engines like Google decide rankings. There are tons of factors that go into the algorithm, many specific to local search, but here are a few of the most important for your organic marketing efforts: Content: Most resources on this topic will echo this idea, but producing frequent, high-quality content truly is a vital piece of boosting your online authority and search rank. To get even more specific, we recommend that you place emphasis on publishing evergreen content to your practice's blog. As its name suggests, evergreen content "stays useful season to season, year to year with little or no need for upkeep." These blogs can continue to be referenced long after they are written and will still be valuable to the reader. Evergreen content is great for SEO as it's long-lasting, so make a concerted effort to produce these types of pieces alongside your other blogs. (Note: in the accounting and tax industry, rules and regulations are constantly changing - this is important to consider when choosing topics for evergreen content. It's imperative that you keep updating your pieces so that readers do not stumble upon outdated or incorrect information.) Reviews: Over the last two years alone, the relevance of reviews relative to other factors in local search has increased by over 43%. With 62.7% of consumers believing that online reviews are "important" or "very important" when choosing a local business, having a large number of positive reviews - especially "fresh" ones from recent clients - will both 1) improve your search engine ranking and 2) increase the leads you receive from prospects who read those reviews. Social media: 95% of business decision makers use social networks to some extent. Are you one of them? Your practice's presence on social media (e.g. consistent, high-quality posting, engagement with followers and influencers, etc.) - as well as the frequency of others sharing your brand on social platforms - is directly linked to your Google ranking. All of these organic marketing activities are elements of highly-trafficked websites and brands. Implementing strategies in these areas early on will lay the foundation for a strong, organic presence on search engines so potential clients can find you more easily. Real world examples Let's take a look at what can happen when you invest in a long-term organic marketing strategy. Below are screenshots of the local Google results for several of our CountingWorks PRO clients who operate in highly competitive markets.
All of these clients - San Diego Taxman, Steward Financial Services, and Steven M. Vogt, CPA, EA, along with many others - have made it into the top three results for their local listings purely through long-term organic tactics. No PPC involved.With our CPA, EA, and tax and accounting clients, we emphasize a strong focus on things like 1) optimized, user-friendly websites, 2) gaining frequent, high-quality reviews, and 3) establishing inbound links to their website from industry-related sites and online directories. All of these methods have boosted their practice's search engine ranking for highly competitive keywords in their respective markets.The role of PPC for established brandsBoth organic marketing and PPC have their own unique benefits (and downsides). The issue we often see is that tax and accounting pros may not understand the size of the budget needed to gain real returns, especially when competing against huge brands (with budgets to match). This can make penetrating local markets with PPC quite difficult.While it's true that PPC campaigns (if deployed properly) can bring an increase in traffic and conversions, without a top-notch website and strong organic marketing tactics in place, it would be impossible to recreate the large numbers of incoming traffic that come from organic search.And, there would need to be sizable PPC budget that would span years in order to see the comparable performance.That being said, there is a time and a place when PPC campaigns can play a positive role: when a brand is established and already has consistent organic marketing efforts.
Organic and paid marketing "work incredibly well together, but all too often, that just isn't the reality for smaller brands." In these situations - aka, for most SMB tax and accounting practices - it makes the most sense to undergo intense SEO improvements before starting to introduce a focus on PPC.
And don't forget: the SEO fun never ends! Consistent upkeep will be necessary in order to combat the frequent algorithm updates that take place throughout any given year.Whether you're a newer practice just starting to build an online presence or a well-established firm with a strong digital footprint, the importance of organic marketing cannot be overstated. It may take time, but your patience will pay off in multitudes down the line.If you have any questions or would like to learn more about organic marketing and PPC, contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 x3 or set up some time to speak with one of our digital marketing experts. We're here to help!